The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Who are the evangelicals?

How Lutherans relate, respond

As the religious landscape continues to change in North America, many voices are seeking the attention of Christians. Mainline churches were the voice of Christianity for most of our U.S. history. Today, the media often views American evangelicals as speaking for Christianity on issues of faith and society.

Who are these people, the American evangelicals? They range from members of megachurches to devotees of TV evangelists to fundamentalists and conservative denominations. Evangelicals are our neighbors, family members and co-workers.

Some questions often posed about them by mainline church members include: "Do we have conversations with evangelicals? How do we differ from evangelicals?"

Before turning to those who are often identified as American evangelicals, it's important to affirm our Lutheran claim that we are evangelical. It's even in our name: Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

designpicsAs Richard Bliese, president of Luther Seminary, St. Paul., Minn., affirms about the term evangelical: "It's our DNA. In our present age, as we all struggle to find our identities, we must never give up the word 'evangelical.' It's ours! Or at least we share it with others. 'Evangelical' is a word that has been used and abused in the popular culture (news organizations regularly confuse evangelical and fundamentalist traditions). Yet, at its core, it bears a message of hope, of good news."

A place to talk, share

If we affirm our evangelical heritage and evangelical focus, how do we as Lutherans relate and participate with those who are identified as American evangelicals?

One of the first places we need to look is our membership and participation in Christian Churches Together. Building on conversations in 2001 and a hope for a more inclusive Christian fellowship, CCT became an organized reality in 2006.

CCT is comprised of five families: evangelical/Pentecostal, Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Protestant, and racial/ethnic. This forum expands fellowship, unity and witness among diverse expressions of the Christian faith. Listed among members of the evangelical/Pentecostal line are the Mennonite Church USA, Sojourners, Evangelicals for Social Action, Christian Reformed Church, Salvation Army, International Pentecostal Holiness Church and others.

The rest of this article is only available to subscribers.

text size:

this page: email | print

February issue


Embracing diversity